Mom or Dad? Which One Accepts You More?

Thoughtful father and son looking through window in cottage
Thoughtful father and son looking through window in cottage

For gay men, relationships with parents can be complicated. It's been said that we usually have a better relationship with our mothers than with our fathers. Fathers represent the masculine side of family, and homosexuality challenges that role.

According to the sociologist Michael Kimmel, men demonstrate their masculinity by repudiating all that is feminine, to prove they are not gay. To be gay is to be powerless, weak, unable to break free from the mother. A strong mother bond is incompatible with real manliness.

That may be so in many families. It was so in mine. When I came out as gay, my father threw me out of the house. For years we did not talk, and all the contact I had were phone calls from my mom. She went to the phone box to call me, or waited until my father was out of the house.

Fast forward twenty-five years. I am now officially married to a man. I live my life openly and proudly, and I do not hide my sexuality, even when I know cannot expect sympathy from other person.

The curious thing is that the relationship to my mother has deteriorated over the years. Somehow she hoped that I would come around one day, marry a nice girl and still give her grandchildren. When she realized this was not going to happen, she became bitter and depressed. She still loves me, but since my marriage, I feel a strong and bitter resentment on her behalf, which surprised me.

My father, on the other hand, who had shown me the door twenty-five years earlier and not spoken to me for a decade, is increasingly proud of me. Proud that I have made my own way, that I have not given in to the temptation of hiding and rejecting who I am, proud also that I took the step to commit to a partner, even though he would have preferred it to be a woman.

A long time after first coming out to my parents, I find myself having a much better relationship with my father than with my mother. Perhaps "masculinity" in my father's mind is more than it seems. Perhaps he did associate "gay" with weakness and has now seen that living a gay life honestly takes a lot of courage. Perhaps in his eyes, I am now a man.

My advice for those of you with problems with your parents: patience. Don't burn all the bridges. People change, sometimes in very unexpected ways.